The Vikings improved to 7-6-1 on the season beating the Dolphins 41-17 in their most lopsided victory of the season. The win kept them in the sixth overall spot in the NFC, maintaining a half-game lead on the Eagles and Redskins for the final playoff spot. The offense got off to a hot start, as they gained chunks of yards on each play. They only faced one third-down on their first three drive to set the tone. With that kind of efficiency, there were only a few plays to point to that truly impacted the game:
- 1st Quarter, 12:47 – Dalvin Cook sparks offense with 26-yard run
Field Position: 2nd and 9 at MIA 42
Result of Drive: Stefon Diggs TD
Synopsis: On the first drive of the Kevin Stefanski-era, the Vikings were moving the ball with ease until Pat Elflein was called for an ineligible man downfield, negating a 16-yard completion to Adam Thielen. Instead of stalling the drive, Cook ripped a 26-yard run on the ensuing play to keep the offense in a groove.
Because of This Play: The Vikings gained the lead and confidence. In previous games, inopportune penalties would stop drives for the Vikings. Cook run not only continued the drive but also set the tone for the day that the Vikings would assert their dominance on the ground. Cook negated a penalty and got the Vikings into the red zone. Stefon Diggs did the rest.
- 1st Quarter, 5:37 – Brice Butler illegal touching forces a punt
Score: 14-0 MIN
Field Position: 3rd and 9 at MIA 26
Result of Drive: Punt
Synopsis: On the Dolphins second drive, they found themselves down 14-0. Desperate to move the ball, Tannehill found Brice Butler on 3rd and long for a gain of 25. Luckily, Butler had stepped out of bounds prior to the catch, which negated the completion and forced the Dolphins to punt.
Because of This Play: The Vikings took an insurmountable lead. A completion here and the Dolphins offense may have found a groove, or at least had the opportunity to flip field position on the Vikings and give their defense a break. A punt by Miami led to another Viking touchdown, as they went up for a commanding 21-0 lead. Unfortunately, things weren’t over from there, but it turned out 21 points. was all they needed to win this one.
- 2nd Quarter, 0:26 – Amendola fails to corral pass at the one
Score: 21-7 MIN
Field Position: 2nd and Goal at MIN 7
Result of Drive: Jason Sanders FG
Synopsis: After the pick-six, the Dolphins immediately received the ball back and led a six-minute drive down the field. Looking to make it a one-score game, Tannehill found Amendola to take the Dolphins down to the Vikings one-yard line. However, after review, the play was ruled incomplete, giving the Dolphins a 3rd and Goal at the 7, as opposed to 3rd and Goal at the 1.
Because of This Play: The Vikings took a two-score lead into the half, as they easily stopped the Dolphins on a more difficult third-down play, turning a potential touchdown into a field goal. This proved vital when Kalen Ballage took the first play of the second-half for a 75-yard touchdown, cutting the lead to 21-17, as opposed to 21-21.
- 3rd Quarter, 12:21 – Marcus Sherels flip field position with a 70-yard return
Score: 21-17 MIN
Field Position: 4th and 19 at MIA 29
Result of Drive: Dan Bailey FG
Synopsis: After its hot start, the Vikings offense cooled off for a few drives. Marcus Sherels took matters into his own hands, fielding a punt at the Vikings 8-yard line that he took 70-yards to set up a Dan Bailey field goal, singlehandedly extending the lead to seven.
Because of This Play: The Vikings were back in control. It was shaky for a few moments and although the lead only became seven here, it felt like more than enough to win the game based on how the defense had played up to this point. Sherels was exceptional all game, returning five punts for a total of 116 yards.
- 3rd Quarter, 1:33 – Tyler Conklin long completion puts Vikings in scoring position
Score: 24-17 Vikings
Field Position: 3rd and 1 at MIN 36
Result of Drive: Dan Bailey FG
Synopsis: Still only up by a score, the Vikings were trying to put the game out of reach. On 3rd and 1 in their own territory, Stefanski dialed up a creative play call that left Tyler Conklin wide open on the left side of the field for a 33-yard catch and run.
Because of This Play: The Vikings took control and never looked back. While they didn’t score a touchdown, the ten-point lead was more than enough. A touchdown on the ensuing possession put the icing on the cake, but this catch-and-run was an imperative conversion that not only gave the Vikings a fresh set of downs, but put points on the board.